William (“Billy”) Lee

Portrait of Washington and Billy Lee by John Trumbull, 1780

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QUICK FACTS
BORN:
c. 1750
  DIED:
1828 at Mount Vernon, Virginia
Buried in the slave burial ground at Mount Vernon.

  • During the summer of the Constitutional Convention in 1787, with Washington presiding, Billy Lee stood behind his master’s chair and tended to his personal needs.
Portrait to come. See entry in Wikipedia. George Washington's long-time valet, William Lee, suffered two serious accidents in the 1780s which dislocated the knee caps of both legs, resulting in permanent disability. Because he could no longer perform his regular duties, Lee became the plantation's shoemaker instead.

 

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The Continental soldier often had to provide his own eating utensils, but on occasion they came as standard issue. Maryland troops, for example, were provided a wooden trencher (plate), and bowl, as well as wooden and pewter spoons. Each man would have his knife, of course; and for quaffing his rum, cider, beer, or whiskey, a horn cup, which was extremely light compared with pewter or ceramic. Officers, as might be expected, had more refined utensils. George Washington’s mess kit, for example, was a very elaborate affair housed in a handsome fourteen-compartment wood chest lined with green wool.

Michael Stephenson
Patriot Battles: How the War of Independence Was Fought (2007)